Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 9/7/18
If you’re reading this, I’m probably on the road! Got a long drive today to a cousin’s wedding down in Maryland. Hopefully it’s neat! Then a long drive back home tomorrow. Fortunately, had some good comics this week to sustain my imagination,
We got two doses of FF this week, with both Fantastic Four and Future Foundation! The latter was less than stellar, while the former won Comic Book of the Week for it’s nifty premise!
Meanwhile, the second issue of the Scream mini-series shows us that Scream could be her own self again, that she’s not just Carnage’s puppet. That gives me hope for her upcoming solo series. And while the new Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy mini-series has a fun first issue, it was too bland to dig into it with a proper review.
In other random news, I finally finished off Kurtis Wiebe’s run on Rat Queens. It’s a bit of a rushed ending, but still good stuff. It’s a great comic overall if you’re ever looking for something to read. Maybe I’ll do a larger article on Rat Queens one of these days…
Comic Reviews: Fantastic Four #14, Future Foundation #2, The Green Lantern #11, House of X #4 and Lois Lane #3.
Fantastic Four #14
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Paco Medina
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Now this I kinda like. This issue feels like exactly like a Dan Slott story for the Fantastic Four.
The Fantastic Four have donated their original spaceship to the National Air and Space Museum, but the ceremony is less than cheerful. Ben is freaked out by the black box recording. Franklin and Val are very dismissive of the basic design of the Marvel-1 rocket. And Sue and Johnny run into Duke Duchman and Sandy Sanders, the NASA pilots who were supposed to join Reed and Ben on the flight, until the Four stole the ship. Duke and Sandy are grateful, considering they could have come back as monsters like the Thing. Johnny doesn’t care for the insult.
When they get home, Reed and Johnny have been struck by a wanderlust. We get a flashback to Johnny passing all his courses to become a NASA pilot. Then Johnny joins Reed in working on a secret project in the lab, one for which they don’t use their powers to help; just good old fashioned elbow grease. When it’s done, they reveal to the family the Marvel-2, a recreation of their original ship, only better. They want to travel to the original destination of their original flight, which they’ve never done in all these years. Ben is immediately against the idea, but he eventually talks himself into it while ranting to Alicia.
So with the kids at a friend’s house, the Fantastic Four strap into a recreation of their original ship to complete their original mission! For funsies!
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great.
I wish I had a copy of Fantastic Four #1 handy to know if Duke Duchman and Sandy Sanders were real characters before now, or if this particular mission was something mentioned long ago and not just something Slott made up. Apparently Slott has come up with the name “Marvel-1”, but that’s fine. It’s a good name for the ship.
Overall, I loved this issue! It’s a fun, creative use of some classic Fantastic Four lore and continuity, and Slott uses it so well to kick off his next story! It’s just plain fun. I love the idea of donating the original rocket to the Smithsonian. I love the scene of Ben quietly freaking out while he listens to the black box recording, using the dialogue from Fantastic Four #1. I like the idea that the two original pilots are still around — though if they are brand new characters, they definitely come off like a Nikki and Paulo. But I especially love Johnny and Reed working on the new ship the old fashioned way and really bonding over that.
I could have done without the extended flashback to Johnny getting certified as a NASA pilot. It was weird. Based on the art, Johnny is drawn like a real teenager, so why he’s even going through that sort of training. The flashback also seems to imply that Johnny went through all of that training alone, and he did it all within the time span of when Reed mapped out their mission and when it was finally flown. That comes off as really really forced, and it didn’t really add anything to the overall story.
But one weird flashback aside, this was a marvelous issue and a really neat story. It’s built on some unexplored Fantastic Four lore and it’s built well. I really hope Slott has something truly fun and unique in mind for when we actually arrive on this mystery planet!
TL;DR: A very fun issue that plays around with both its characters and in classic FF lore!
Future Foundation #2
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Artists: Will Robson and Paco Diaz
Inkers: Robson, Diaz and Daniele Orlandini
Colorists: Greg Menzie and Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
I think this comic has more than this comic can handle.
After a somewhat lengthy recap of the origins of the Maker, Secret Wars and various post-Secret Wars status quos, we pick back up in the intergalactic prison, where Alex Power is easily duped into believing the Maker is the real Reed Richards, despite the fact that the Maker is drawn to be about the same age as Alex, he’s scarred and he’s up here in an intergalactic prison. He also doesn’t act like Reed Richards at all. Honestly, everybody comes off as really dim that they don’t immediately peg the Maker as somebody other than the Reed Richards they already know. It’s not like the idea of alternate reality versions of someone is a strange idea to these people.
They help Maker and his prison buddies escape, gawking at the carnage and murder that these villains are committing. Once they get these obvious bad guys back on their ship, only then does Alex attempt some kind of ambush by the kids of the Future Foundation. This took way too long for Alex Power, Dragon Man, Yondu and countless others to figure out, and they only really did so after a magic device that detects alternate realities pinged on Maker.
Meanwhile, Julie rescues her prisoner, who turns out to be Rikki Barnes, Cap’s sidekick from the Heroes Reborn universe. They work together to escape the prison and arrive on the ship just in time for Rikki to sock the Maker in the jaw. He’s surprised to see her alive, and she says she’s been dead before, but she got better.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
There is way, way, way, way too much going on in this comic, and very little of it is focused on the actual Future Foundation. And the parts that do focus on the Future Foundation fail at bringing out the unique aspects of this crew. For example, we get some dialogue from both the Uhari and the Moloids in this issue, but both characters speak like any normal character, ignoring any of the personality and unique speech patterns that these characters are known for. That was disappointing. This is supposed to be a crew unlike any other in comics, but here they’re just a bunch of action heroes. The parts of the issue that do focus on the actual action heroes are fun. I like Julie Power and Rikki kicking butt and being awesome. And the art is bright and colorful.
But there are just some story choices that get really lost along the way. Julie Power only just joined the Future Foundation, and Alex Power is probably the least interesting member of the crew, yet they get the focus. And like I said, Alex spends the whole issue gape-mouthed at how Reed Richards is acting out of character. The Maker gets most of the character focus and dialogue for his scenes, along with this arbitrary prison buddies, taking away the spotlight from the FF.
This is a loosey goosey comic. I could just keep going at all the weird little choices and focuses and spotlights, but then we’d be here all day. This comic lacks control. Everything is so wild, and seemingly thrown in at random. For example, one of Maker’s prison buddies is a giant monster named “Phyllis”, and he gets a panel attacking some fellow inmates for making fun of his name. If they’re all freaky aliens from other planets, why does the name “Phyllis” matter? Or if this prison relies on armed security guards, why do they also have a super deadly swarm of nano-security bots that the team has to outrun?
Argh, I feel like I’m just going around in circles trying to describe this comic. It’s good overall. The writing is good, for the most part, and the art is really well done. I also really enjoy bright and colorful comics like this. But the story is all over the place, the focus is everywhere except on the FF, and nothing seems to be coalescing into a solid, understandable story right now.
Let me put it like this: all of the drama and action in this issue revolves around Maker, Julie Power and Rikki Barnes…none of whom are members of the Future Foundation.
(Note: I know Julie is now a member of the FF, but she wasn’t before this series started.)
TL;DR: The writing is good, the art is great, but there’s just something not coming together quite right with this new series. It’s a bit stuffy and unfocused.
The Green Lantern #11
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Colorist: Steve Oliff
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
This issue is peak Grant Morrison confusion, but I think I’ve mostly got it figured out.
Hal Jordan and his fellow alternate reality Lanterns investigate the big, gold dude from the end of last issue: Zundernell the Golden Lantern, guardian of the Cosmic Grail. He’s all about speeches and melodrama, and captures the team — except for Hal, who escapes with the help of Star Sapphire from Earth-11. She explains that this Zundernell is full of himself, like Don Quixote. He’s keeping Lanterns imprisoned to be his army someday, but it’s all bogus. Hal and Carol keep him busy until Tangent Green Lantern returns and uses her lantern to awaken Zundernell’s Sancho Panza, who is able to distract Zundernell enough for the GL cavalry to arrive and defeat him. The day is saved!
Except, while all of this was going on, the Qwa-Man returned and tore apart a GL crew investigating the dead planet Weirwimm in Sector None.
Also, the big fiery monster in Universe-Zero that is taking on some GLs and Superwatch could be a good guy, himself attempting to stop the Qwa-Man.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I’m definitely going to need a re-read on this whole story when it’s done, because I’ve forgotten everything I was supposed to know about Qwa-Man. And this Zundernell guy is all bluster and big ideas, so he’s peak Grant Morrison, but in that way where it’s hard to parse out exactly what he’s talking about and how it relates to everything else. We know by the end not to take him at his word, but everything leading up to the end is tough as heck to really wrap my head around. So this is one of those issues. Full of weird, heady ideas that don’t go out of their way to help explain what’s going on. Fortunately, this issue also features plenty of solid, character-based stuff. Hal teaming up with an alternate reality Star Sapphire is fun, as they compare notes on their rocky parallel relationships. And I can still generally understand the ideas of good vs. evil, so it’s not all impenetrable. This is just one big oof of an issue.
TL;DR: The ongoing story remains pretty amazing, but this singular issue is peak heady Grant Morrison storytelling. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes that’s thick.
House of X #4
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Curiouser and curiouser we sink into the unknown…
The explosion outside the Orchis station at the end of last issue killed Archangel and Husk, so the remaining X-Men rally to uncouple the Mother Mold and send it falling into the sun. They succeed, but the humans fight back and manage to kill the entire away team in some pretty cool moments. Like, Monet can transform into Penance, but she’s brought down by soldiers. And when the humans cut off access to the final device, Nightcrawler has to teleport Wolverine out into the void of space, right next to the sun, so that he can slash through the remaining metal coupler. It’s badass.
Xavier and his team are monitoring all of this telepathically from Earth, and when it’s all done and the X-Men are dead, the issue declares “NO MORE!”
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
Well I was right! Hickman killed them all! And now nothing is what it seems in the House of X/Powers of X story. But unlike the last twist we got, when we found out that Year One Hundred was a different Moira lifeline, this wild new cliffhanger is more curious than exciting. Just what is happening here?! Is any of this real? Does any of it matter?
What does matter is that I really enjoy Hickman’s handling of these characters. He writes them well, and the simplicity of the actual issue is a great showcase for the X-Men. Monet gets a great scene where she holds off security on her own. Cyclops is still damn cool. And Nightcrawler and Wolverine get an amazing scene as they sacrifice themselves to destroy the Mother Mold. It’s a bunch of great X-Men scenes, which gets me excited for the eventual comics that Hickman is actually going to write.
So yeah, solid X-Men storytelling with fantastic art makes for a really good issue. And the event is still crazy cool.
My new theory: the Marvel Universe that we already know and love will be Moira’s 11th life! All of this House of X stuff is taking place during the 10th life, which will end at the end of the mini-series.
TL;DR: The big X-Men event gets crazy in a really big way, but beyond that, this is still an exceptionally written and drawn X-Men comic.
Lois Lane #3
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Mike Perkins
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Never thought this comic would tie into 52 of all things, but then I suppose Rucka was one of the writers of 52, right?
Lois Lane has survived a possible assassination attempt, or was the shooter trying to kill the politician who was going to spill the beans? Nobody knows for sure, and the shooter is in custody — but all anybody really cares about is that Superman has shown up, hovering over the scene. Lois and Renee depart the crime scene and Lois is angry at Superman for showing up. She calls him out, knowing he can hear her speaking at normal volume, and he eventually shows up so they can talk. Renee heads back to the hotel.
Lois and Clark go for a flight while they parse out what’s happening, and how Lois is mad that Superman would pose for the cameras like that, which only adds fuel to the fire that is the story of Lois having an affair with Superman. Either way, Lois is confident she’s on to a good story and the two part ways. Lois heads back to her hotel room and hears someone in the shower. She thinks it’s Clark, having already returned from his business elsewhere, but she opens the door to find her son!
Also, when Renee returned to the hotel earlier, she was tracked by the male Question. They get into a fight and then calm down when they see they’re both the Question. They take off their masks and the male Question reveals himself to be Charlie, who died, leading to Renee taking over. She’s happy to see him alive again.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
As a big fan of the original 52 comic, and especially Renee Montoya’s journey through that comic, her getting a reunion with the original Question is just the bee’s knees! I don’t know why DC went with that weird mystical revamp of the Question in the New 52. Charlie, and especially Renee, are much cooler characters!
Beyond those two, this is an especially enjoyable issue between Lois and Clark. Their relationship is one of the best in comics, and one of the best and most famous in all of fiction, and it’s great to see Rucka really play with it and have fun with it. The two of them are so sweet and loving and are such equals.
The scene at the end is a little weird, of Lois in her underwear opening the shower door to her naked son…but let’s ignore that for now. The bulk of the issue, from Lois arguing with Clark through his super hearing, to Clark trying to use flying to calm her anger, to the two of them having an honest, open conversation about why she’s angry and what he’s done. It’s just so damn good. This is exactly the sort of great character work I’m excited to read in a Greg Rucka comic.
Everybody’s out there worried about making a good Superman movie, when writers like Greg Rucka make the character look easy.
TL;DR: There are a lot of mysteries and coolness swirling in this comic, but sometimes it’s just great to settle in and have an open, honest conversation with one of fiction’s greatest romances.
The comics I review in my Hench-Sized reviews are just the usual comics I pick up from my local shop any given week, along with a few impulse buys I might try on a whim. So if there are any comics or series you’d like me to review each week, let me know in the comments!
Posted on September 7, 2019, in Comics, DC, Marvel, Reviews, Superman, X-Men and tagged Fantastic Four, Future Foundation, Green Lantern, House of X, Lois Lane, Powers of X. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.